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The 10 Worst Possible Opening Moves You Can Play in Chess

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Chess is a game that requires strategy. While there are many different strategies, it’s important to know which ones will lead you to victory and which ones will lead you into defeat. This article focuses on the worst possible opening moves in chess for beginners.

The move 1.f3 moving the white pawn on the f-file one square forward is widely accepted as the worst possible opening move in chess for the white pieces as it instantly shows a weakness of the defense of the King, placing white at a distinctive disadvantage from the start.

The Worst First move in Chess

The worst move, 1.f3, can result in disaster if your opponent knows what they’re doing! With this information under your belt, you’ll be able to avoid these terrible openings and find yourself winning more often!

There are 20 different moves white can make for the first move in chess and 1.f3 is the one you will most want to avoid. It is called the Barnes opening and is one of five of those 20 moves you definitely want to avoid.

This article will explain 10 openings to avoid in chess, as well as a tangible figure for each of the possible 20 first moves, so you know which to avoid at all costs.

The 10 Worst Opening Moves in Chess for White

The following five opening moves for white will put you at an immediate disadvantage, regardless of whether they form part of your strategy or if you have a trap lined up.

  1. Barnes Opening – 1. f3
  2. Grob Opening – 1. g4
  3. Amar Opening – 1. Nh3
  4. Polish Opening – 1. b4
  5. Sodium Attack – 1. Na3
  6. Kádas Opening – 1. h4
  7. Bird’s Opening – 1. f4
  8. Nimzowitsch-Larsen Attack – 1. b3
  9. Mieses Opening – 1. d3
  10. Ware Opening – 1. a4

Playing one of these openings against an experienced, or even intermediate player will place you on the backfoot in a game right from the outset.

You should employ these openings only once you have become very proficient in playing them and defending your positions or setting up your traps.

Use the analysis features on chess.com to understand the best return moves for black in these positions to understand what attack to expect and see how you can set up your strategy.

What makes these 10 moves the worst openings in chess?

Let’s go through the 1 wost openings in chess, one by one, and give a brief explanation of why they are considered bad and what to expect from black in return

Barnes Opening – 1. f3

Black’s best response 1…e5

This is the first move known as the Barne's Opening in chess, it is considered the worst possible first move for white.
Barne’s Opening

The opening of 1. f3 is known as the Barnes Opening, named after Thomas Wilson Barnes, an English player who had an incredible eight victories over Paul Morphy.

As incredible as those wins might be, one would not want to employ the Barnes opening to take on any proficient player with the black pieces who would immediately respond with 1…e5 and begin to take swift control of the center of the board.

Grob Opening – 1. g4

Black best response 1…d5

Considered the second worst opening you can make in chess when playing white, this is the first move in the Grob opening
Grob Opening

The Grob opening is a wild flank pawn opening move from white that you will rarely see played although can appear most frequently at an amateur level. It will immediately provide black with a 1.1 lead on balance, which is as bad as The Barne’s opening. Expect black to counter with an immediate 1…d5 to begin control of the center.

Not an opening to play seriously, just use it from time to time to give your opponent a head-scratching moment, or yourself a challenge to turn things back in your favor.

The Grob should be extremely rarely played in competitive chess unless you are almost 100% confident you are able to regain the advantage and outplay your opponent.

Amar Opening – 1. Nh3

Black best response 1…e5

The amar opening move in chess which is playing the kings knight to the flank on h3 square
Amar Opening

The Amar opening is named after Charles Amar and has several alternative names including the Ammonia opening or the Drunken Knight Opening among others.

Whilst the name might be changed the opening move of taking the King’s Knight to the h flank file never changes and can be considered pretty reckless before adventurous given an Immediate 0.8 advantage given to the black pieces.

Magus Carlsen has been known to play this as an opening move, but what’s good for Magnus is not good for us.

No good can come to us by playing the Amar Opening

Polish Opening – 1. b4

Black best response 1…e5

There are few, if any advantages to playing the Amar opening move in chess which takes the b file pawn two squares forward
Amar Opening

Not quite as bad as the Amar, the Polish is almost as if affords a 0-7 lead to black before they move a piece, which, should be a straight 1…e5 response to improve the position of the dark pieces in an instant.

Also given names such as Sokolsky after Alexei Pavlovich Sokolsky and even the orangutan opening, it is rare, arguably reckless and certainly not recommended if playing anyone with some intermediary chess skills.

It does release the Queen’s bishop but there are better ways to do so.

From a balance-based view, it is the fourth-worst opening you can make in chess.

Sodium Attack – 1. Na3

Black best response 1…e5

The sodium attack is a poor opening with better alternatives, but names as such due the algebraic notation giving the chemical name for sodium in Na
Sodium attack

It is not difficult to see why this opening move for white is known as the Sodium Attack given the algebraic notation for the move providing the chemical symbol Na which is of course for Sodium.

Be prepared for sodium burns and bangs when playing this unusual opening. You already know this is rated the 5th worst opening move in chess, conceding a 0.6 lead on balance to the black pieces without them having to make their first move, which should be 1…e5

Also known as the Durkin opening after Robert Durkin, it is again not recommended, when thee are 15 other moves you could make which would be better.

Kádas Opening – 1. h4

Black best response 1…e5

The Kádas opening is an unusual and unpopular opening move for white in chess
Kádas Opening

Not a well-known opening move and certainly neither popular nor recommended, The Kádas opening places white at a disadvantage straight away. Also known as the Desprez Opening, white plays the h-file pawn 2 squares to h4.

Whilst the likes of Magnus Carlsen might have a dabble in some fun time control events with bad openings for white, at the master level of competitive chess, the Kádas opening is about as rare as Carlsen losing, suffice to say, it is very rarely witnessed.

There are literally no benefits in making this the first move of your chess game, so quite simply, just don’t!

Bird’s Opening – 1. f4

Black best response 1…d5

Birds opening is not popular but more recognisable opening, but still not one of the best of the first 20 possible moves able to be made.
Bird’s Opening

Now moving on to an opening move that might be the first you recognize the name of, the Bird’s opening is named after Henry Bird, who could push a piece or two.

The Bird’s Opening is a fairly common flanker. White’s strategic ideas include the control of the e5-square, which provides excellent attacking prospects at the expense of somewhat weakening their own kingside.

However, whilst it is not as unusual as the others preceding it in this list, the Bird’s opening has to be learned extremely well before consideration of playing it.

You should prepare and understand your partners’ habits and understand how they will react to the Bid’s opening. Certainly, expect 1…d5 in return.

Nimzo-Larsen Attack – 1. b3

Black best response 1…d5

Nimzo-Larsen attack opening for white, not one of the best first moves that can be made.
Nimzo-Larsen Attack

It’s worth noting that the opening move 1.b3 is a decent choice for White to start a game despite a dozen ‘better’ first moves.

The move took its name from the famous Danish GM Bent Larsen, who was known for his unusual style, this in itself tells you some of what you need to know.

GM Aron Nimzowitsch also gets a mention in the opening you might note.

The idea is to prepare the fianchetto of the queen’s bishop, providing support to the center whilst also adding some pressure to the kingside of your opponent.

Mieses Opening – 1. d3

Black best response 1…e6

The Mieses opening in chess playing the queens pawn one square forward
Mieses Opening

The first move of the Mieses Opening is 1. d3, which is named after the German-British grandmaster Jacques Mieses.

It is not a regular opening, but neither would it be considered the worst opening for white, given the 8 that have already preceded it in this list.

Fully expects. prepared black opponent to swiftly move the e pawn one square anticipating another strange move.

The opening has a really interesting example on history when Gary Kasparov took on Deep blue in a match in 1997.

Kasparov had a theory of making deep blue think rather than depending on book moves might assist his cause. the game was drawn.

Make your own conclusions.

Ware Opening – 1. a4

Black best response 1…d5

The Ware opening in chess moves the a file pawn one square forward, it is unconventional and not popular and could be considered one of the top ten worst first moves in chess
Ware Opening

The final opening in this list of the 10 worst opening moves in chess is Ware’s opening.

Another flank pawn single square move, which quite frankly, you should never play, and will very rarely see played unless for some entertainment or shock value from a super confident player.

Preston Ware’s name was chosen as a homage to this opening move for white given he was a proponent of rather more unusual opening moves including a4.

Also known as the Meadow Hay opening for reasons, I do not know, there would seem to be, and indeed are no sound logically tactical reasons to play this as your first move with the white pieces.

Just stick to the best opening moves for white.

Summary

You can see how each of these ten openings rates in the table below, but also check out the list of 20 possible first moves in chess to find out the other ten moves, all of which can be considered favorable to play ahead of the 10 in this list.

Chart of the 10 Worst Openings in Chess.

1st moveNameBalanceBlack Move
1. f3Barne’s Opening-1.1e5
1. g4Grob Opening-1.1d5
1. Nh3Amar Opening-0.8e5
1. b4Polish Opening-0.7e5
1. Na3Sodium Attack-0.6e5
1. h4Kádas Opening-0.5e5
1. f4Bird’s Opening-0.3d5
1. d3Mieses Opening-0.2e6
1. b3Nimzo-Larsen Attack-0.2d5
1. a4Ware Opening-0.2d5

These are the only 10 moves from the possible 20 opening fist moves white can make that result in a negative advantage for the white pieces.

Each of the other ten possible first moves are either level or a small and slight advantage for white.

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